DISCLAIMER: See Part 1
This story is a sequel to the stories “Lord Conqueror of the Realm,” "Queen of the Realm," and "Princess of the Realm." I strongly recommend you read them first because in this story there are references to events that took place in them. Here is where you can find them:
The third story of the Realm series "Princess of the Realm" can now be found on an Ebook format as well – for free. (epub, MOBI, PDF) on the Xena Library web site. It is listed under the LORD CONQUEROR OF THE REALM SERIES, so scroll down to the L's.
SPECIAL THANKS : My humble most ardent gratitude to the excellent, most brilliant Beta reader Nancyjean , whom I can't thank enough.
Comments, thoughts, questions & feedback : MOST WELCOMED – The more you write me, the quicker I post – I mean it!
"I have forgotten how much I adore these quiet meals with no one but us, my Lord," the Queen said as she sucked the marrow out of the bone of a tender pheasant.
No reply came from the Conqueror, who was across the table from her reclining over a few large pillows encased in fine silk and satin in the Imperial bedchamber, immersed in deep thoughts.
"Apparently, you are not enjoying my company as much as I enjoy yours tonight," the Queen spoke her protest softly but her message was clear.
"Forgive me, my Lady. My mind was elsewhere," said the Conqueror and poured wine into her gilded chalice.
"Are you thinking about Terreis?" the Queen asked and leaned backwards against the pillows.
"I was thinking about both of them…" the Conqueror replied and took a healthy gulp of wine and relished its rich texture rolling over her tongue, "Athena and Terreis."
"You miss them…" the Queen stated and a gentle smile ornamented her lips. "Athena and Sieglinde will be back from Athens within a day or two at the most."
"Good," the Conqueror said in a manner that was particular enough to make the Queen suspect that there was something more than mere longing in her Lord's heart and mind.
"And why is it so good, my Lion?" she inquired.
"There is something I wish to discuss with her," the Conqueror deliberately delivered a vague answer.
The Queen tore another leg from the bird swimming in sauce on her plate and sunk her teeth into the succulent meat.
"You do look quite delicious when you are sucking on bones," the Conqueror said suggestively and ran her tongue over her teeth as though she was preparing herself to take a bite.
"My Lord," the Queen put down the meat, "Though I find your prurient compliments extremely endearing and stimulating, I also find them extremely distracting… I am sure I have told you several times in the past…" She brought the Conqueror's hand to her mouth and placed a kiss on the Conqueror's seal-ring. "Back to the matter at hand," she continued. "I have already regaled all that had happened with Terreis in a letter to Athena."
"That is not what I mean to discuss with her," the Conqueror said, much to the Queen's surprise.
"What is it, then?"
The Ruler took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. What she had to say to Athena concerned her wife, as well.
"Athena is now judicious, self-possessed and well matched."
Although very pleased that her Lord had noticed their eldest's advancement and was obviously proud of her, the Queen wondered what had brought her Lord to say it on that particular night, but she did not ask, not wishing to interrupted her Lord.
"She has reached full power," the Conqueror said then paused for what she had to say next was of great importance and substantial repercussions, "and I am tired of the yoke of rule."
The Queen almost did not believe her own ears. She straightened back up and both her brows were high above her green eyes. "My Lord," she sighed, "If truly you love me," she became short of breath and fanned her hand over her heart, as her breasts quickly rose and fell with her quick and shallow breathing, "I beseech you not to get my hopes high if you do not really mean what I suspect you are about to say."
Upon seeing her wife's excited reaction and listening to her words, a low-toned chuckle escaped from the Conqueror's mouth. She tapped her knee, beckoning the Queen to come and sit in her lap. It was all the invitation the Queen needed. With a light heart and shimmering bright eyes, the Queen got up and threw herself at the Conqueror, cupping her strong features with both hands and showering countless vigorous kisses all over it.
"For the remainder of our lives, I wish to show you the world, Gabrielle," the Conqueror finally said what her wife had yearned for years to hear.
The Queen closed her eyes when she heard her Lord fulfilling her deepest, most clandestine desire, and a single tear fell from her left eye.
Their embrace tightened and the Queen pressed her cheek against her Lord's and whispered only three words:
"Thank you, Xena."
They sealed the beginning of a new chapter in their lives with a tender yet passionate kiss. She knew that her Lord was not really relinquishing power, for her Lord's power stemmed neither from the fortune she had garnered nor from the vast lands she had conquered – nor even from the millions of people under her rule. These were but mere symbols of her power. The Conqueror's power came from within her and could not be relinquished. Nevertheless, her Lord was relinquishing control, which the Queen did not take lightly. She also knew that the grand gesture, perhaps the grandest of all past gestures that her Lord had paid her over their years together, was done for her, for them and for no other reason. Perhaps it had been Cyrene 's passing that had reminded her Lord of her own mortality. People such as her Lord were always in need of such reminders, for they were greater than life.
Her Lord simply did not wish to squander more valuable time on her Throne when she could spend it with her. It had nothing to do with the Conqueror's weariness of rule. Her Lord only said so, so to diminish her grand gesture and not cause her any misgivings receiving it. It made the Conqueror's gift to her all the more precious.
"So, when do we leave? What shall be our first destination?" the Queen exuberantly asked.
The Conqueror began to laugh. "First things first," she said. "We must inform Athena of our decision then pass to her the reins of rule in an orderly fashion. A moon or so ought to suffice for the preparations of the coronation."
"And then!?" the Queen anxiously goaded her Lord.
"Where do you wish to travel first, my Love?" the Conqueror relished her wife's evident happiness.
"First, I think… The Nordic Lands , then Britannia and Germania… then Gaul and India …"
A wholehearted laughter erupted from the Conqueror's mouth and she buried her face in the nook between her wife's shoulder and neck and ran her tongue over the tender skin there. When her laughter subsided, she said: "Perhaps we could make a stop at the Amazon Lands…"
The Queen ran the tip of her finger over her Lord's hard jaw line. "Pray heed my advice to you," she said ardently. "My Lord does not go and grovel before those who displease or disrespect her but rather summons them to appear before her and demands their capitulation before her will and power. Going to the Amazon Lands will not benefit you, my Lion."
The Conqueror knew that her wife was right.
"If only to ease your mind and cleanse your heart of any doubt or worry," the Queen continued, "I shall travel to the Amazon Lands myself and apply my best efforts to resolve the discord between you and Terreis," she suggested much to her Lord's relief and delight.
"Of course, I will. I shall leave as soon as Athena is back."
The following day, Athena and Sieglinde returned from their visit to Athens and before they even had a chance to wash their feet from the dust of the roads, they were summoned to the Great Hall to appear before the Conqueror and the Queen.
The somewhat urgent summons gave Athena and Sieglinde pause. It could not have been simply for the purpose of greeting them back home, for there would not have been any reason for the formal summon for that. It could not have been for the discord between the Conqueror and Princess Terreis either, for the Conqueror would not have related to that matter in a public forum. Nevertheless, they complied of course with the Conqueror's will and headed straight to the Great Hall. After their arrival was announced and they strode towards the Throne, observing their subjects bow and curtsy before them, they could not help but notice the unusual large number of courtiers present that day.
"Majesties," they muttered, bowing and curtsying before the Conqueror and the Queen.
The Conqueror and the Queen, dressed in their regal attire and with their crowns on their heads, greeted Princess Athena and Princess Sieglinde back.
The Conqueror could see puzzlement clear across her eldest' features.
"It is my desire and pleasure," the Conqueror stated with sonorous voice while her arms were resting on the armrests of her Throne, "that you should ascend to the Throne and proceed to claim my crown and rule over this great Realm."
No one in the Great Hall was more astounded and more dumbfounded than Princess Athena and had it not been for the official occasion, she would not have bitten the inside of her cheeks and would not have concealed her befuddlement. Nothing could have prepared her for such an announcement. Her legs nearly trembled, she was not entirely sure whether from the awesome responsibility about to befall her or the great trust her Sire was about to place in her. Her Sire, a thought passed through her mind, against her very nature was releasing her iron grip from her regime. It was inconceivable.
"My Sovereign Lord Conqueror," Athena replied, mastering her voice to keep it steady, though her heart was pounding wildly in her chest, "it is with great reverence, awe and tribulation that I shall receive your Throne. I shall aspire to your Majesty's greatness and continue your rule on the path which you have beset this great Empire upon."
The Conqueror acknowledged her Heir's words with a nod of her head.
The Queen regarded her daughter-in-law, intently. "It is my desire and pleasure," she said to her, "that you should ascend to my Throne and proceed to claim my crown and rule alongside your Lord as Queen of the Realm."
When first she had heard the Conqueror's words to Athena, Sieglinde had surmised that the Queen would similarly address her so she had ample time to get over her initial shock. Yet still, she had to maintain a stoic exterior.
"My Sovereign Queen," she exclaimed and her voice nearly betrayed her. She felt heavy on her feet and her mind was racing. "Thank you for the great honor your Majesty has bestowed upon me. I shall do all that I can to prove worthy of your Majesty's trust."
The Queen nodded her head and the Conqueror concluded: "The coronation ceremony will take place within a moon."
Later that day, in the privacy of the Imperial Chambers, the Royals celebrated till the wee hours of the night and spoke of their future plans. The shadow of the incident with Terreis hovered over them still and so none mentioned her name.
All throughout the Realm, beckons were burning high, delivering the message to all corners of the world.
Two days later the Queen left for the Amazon Lands.
The Queen, accompanied by her ladies in waiting and a few soldiers of the Imperial Guard, reached the outer borders of the Amazon Lands. The Queen ordered her entourage to make camp and wait for her return.
She proceeded to ride alone into the woods, taking into her lung the fresh scent of the dense forest laced with touches of trails of the impending spring. When she reached the edge of the clearing she was accosted by two Amazon guards, who immediately recognized her and bowed before her. No longer their tribe's Queen, they each greeted her with a warm, 'Your Majesty'.
They escorted her to the center of the village where her daughter Princess Terreis, now holding the right of cast, was vigorously training to become Queen of the Amazons.
As soon as the Queen's presence was noticed, all training immediately stopped and all bowed before her.
Terreis, dressed in Amazon attire and holding a staff in her hands, was surprised to say the least to see her Mother. As she bowed before her, she wondered whether her Sire was soon to follow and when she straightened back up she threw a few quick glances at all directions. However, there was no sign of the Conqueror anywhere.
All waited for the Queen to speak but long moments passed in silence. The Queen's decision to pass her queenhood to her youngest hadn't been unexpected. Many believed that it had been the Queen's wish that Terreis would be sent to their lands to join their tribe, learn their ways and begin her training as their future queen.
"It warms my heart to see you all again, sisters," the Queen said and her green eyes shone with soft warmth. She was genuinely happy to see all their familiar faces. Her eyes perused around, examining the huts and the high podium. It took her back in her mind's eye to the time when she had lived amongst them before Terreis was born.
They all smiled back at her but no smile was wider or brighter than that of Mysia , the Amazon who has been acting as queen until Terreis' arrival. It seemed as though regardless of the time that had gone by, Mysia still held a torch for the Queen and her tender sentiments toward her hadn't abated at all.
The Queen was even happy to see Molpadia, who, when last the Conqueror had visited there, had all but offered herself to her.
"Your Majesty is always welcome in her tribe," Shamaness Smirna said and Cynna nodded her head.
The Queen's gaze returned to her youngest. Seeing her out of her regal attire and in Amazon garments made her look older than her years, she thought. "I wish to speak to you," she said to her.
They walked side by side together to the queen's hut. Terreis braced herself for her Mother's reproach, but it did not come.
Not yet, for the Queen waited for them to be in a private place and far from prying eyes.
"How do you like living with the Amazons?" the Queen asked and not a trace of any ill feelings could be detected in her voice.
"I like it very much," Terreis replied. "Their ways are far different from ours in Corinth ."
"What do you like best?" the Queen asked.
"Their sisterhood… or should I say our sisterhood for I am a part of them, now."
"How are they treating you?" the Queen inquired further.
"Very well. They treat me like an adult and with dignity. They look upon me as though I was their queen already, despite the fact that I have yet to finish my training."
"I am pleased to hear this," the Queen said as they reached the queen's hut.
"Shamaness Smirna is a very wise woman. She has already begun preparing me for the role I was destined to fill."
"Indeed, she is. Nevertheless, you should always remember you are a Princess of the Realm and that even as queen you owe allegiance to the Throne."
"To the Throne…" Terreis emitted somewhat confrontationally. "To Sire, you mean…" she wanted to expose her Mother's true meaning behind her last words.
"The queen of the Amazons is the Lord Conqueror's governor to the Amazon Lands." the Queen stated matter-of-factly as they walked into the hut.
Terreis did not care for the reminder.
Once behind the closed door, the Queen ran a quick look around the hut she had occupied some years ago when she'd joined the Amazon tribe. She remembered the heartache she had felt on account of her quarrel with her Lord and how she had cried herself to sleep each and every night. There was something sweet about it now, she thought.
"Sire has ordered you here, I take it," Terreis' voice pulled the Queen out of her stroll down memory lane.
"My Lord does not order me, child, and had my Lord any desire to speak with you my Lord would have summoned you to Corinth herself," the Queen was quick to clarify any misconceptions, though she suspected her daughter had only said it to spite her. "I am here to ask you to return with me to Corinth to beg your Sire's forgiveness for your inexcusable behavior toward her and for the audacious words you've dared say to her."
"I have nothing to say to Sire. It is Sire who ought to beg my forgiveness for giving me this wretched curse that runs in my veins."
"In all my life I have never dreamed that one day I would hear you speak such vile words. You are ungrateful, Terreis. Your Sire has given you life and has risked her life in order to save yours more than once since you were born. Your Sire has showered you with love and affections since the moment you came out of my womb and this is how you repay her?!"
"Any of my sisters would risk their lives to save mine," Terreis spat back.
"Perhaps," the Queen replied. "But none would do it as gladly as your Sire has."
Terreis had nothing to say to that. She knew that her Mother was right.
"Be that as it may," she said after awhile, "what I know now about Sire… and the darkness she instilled in me… I want nothing to do with any of it."
"You are willing to cut your Sire out of your life… Do you not bear any love in you heart for your Sire?"
"It has no bearing on the matter!"
Terreis did not answer.
"Then know this," the Queen spoke deliberately, inwardly thinking she had never thought she would ever hear herself say what she was about to, "I am ashamed of you."
Though her Mother's words scathed her beyond measure, Terreis swallowed the insult and raised her chin defiantly, which only aggravated her Mother's ire further.
"You are but a spoiled child and not fit to be queen of the Amazons," she said and her fists trembled.
Awash with turbulent feelings of rage, odd excitement and thrilling trepidation, Terreis hissed between gritting teeth, "Are you challenging me, Mother?"
"I am, child," the Queen replied and her insides were turning with pain.
Terreis' nostrils were wide and a storm was rising in her eyes. "So you've come all this way to hit me again, have you?!"
It was now the Queen that beheld the young lass standing before her, who was her living image, as if she was a stranger.
"Afraid, are you?" the Queen did not recognize herself as she heard the words that came streaming out of her mouth. To her it sounded more like something her Lord might say.
"Don't you know by now, Mother…" Terreis retorted and absentmindedly placed her hand over her Labrys, "We do not know fear."
"So you are aware of the fact that your Sire's blood has its advantages, I see," the Queen murmured.
It did not escape the Queen's mind that following the challenge, whether Terreis would win or lose, battle-lust would be upon her and she would be forced to deal with it – only this time, it would not be in an understanding and accommodating place like a brothel but in an Amazon village were the women were proud.
She considered the possibility that she might be placing her sister Amazons in jeopardy but further contemplations convinced her that Terreis would eventually go to a neighboring village in one of the three Provinces that surrounded the Amazon Lands and sate herself in a local brothel.
"Let us go, then," the Queen concluded.
The Royals strode out of the hut. When they've reached the square, Terreis addressed the women standing there: "Her Majesty has issued a challenge to me."
Gasps of shock followed by immediate murmurs could be heard. It was as if sudden unrest roved through the village and touched each and every one present. Shamaness Smirna hobbled towards the Queen and all but pulled her aside for a few much needed words in private.
"What has happened?" she asked, alarmed.
"You have a way of teaching lessons, my friend and I have mine," was all the Queen was willing to say. "I need to change my clothes. I cannot fight in this dress," she said.
"Of course," the Shamaness replied, "I shall have Cynna attend to you in my hut."
"Thank you, dear friend," the Queen said and before she turned to leave she added, "And watch over Terreis after the fight is over for she has my Lord's darkness inside of her."
It was as if a cloud settled over the old woman at the very mention of the Conqueror's darkness. She immediately understood what the Queen had told her. It was a dire concept to grasp that there was a predator in their midst in a shape of such a young lass who appeared as innocent and as pure-hearted as her Mother.
"I will," the older woman eventually said.
"You must promise me," the Queen insisted.
"I promise you, Majesty," the Shamaness assured her and called out to Cynna to attend to the Queen.
A large circle was formed around the practice field. Every single one of the Amazons came to witness the challenge.
"Choose the weapon," the Queen said to her daughter who stood opposite her. 'A show of generosity before a battle undermines the opponent's confidence', she remembered what her Lord had taught her once.
As Terreis beheld her Mother, she did not view her as such but as an opponent to be subdued in combat, otherwise, she thought, she would not be able to bring herself to strike the woman who had given birth to her no matter how angry she was with her.
"I choose the staff," she answered and two Amazons handed the Queen and Terreis a staff each.
It did not take the Queen too long to overpower and subdue her youngest. She had years of practice on her and the wisdom that comes with age and experience.
With her foot over Terreis' throat and the staff aimed at her face, Terreis gave in.
Both women were panting heavily and were holding each other's glares.
It took the Queen a few moments before she backed away. As she did, she caught a flicker of the beast glowering back at her.
Terreis stood up as soon as her Mother backed away from her. Angrily, she threw her staff to the ground and dusted the dirt from her garments.
"I will not return to Corinth , Majesty," Terreis exclaimed.
"I shall not take the right of cast from you. You need to learn that being queen has more to it than excelling in combat. Being a worthy queen has nothing to do with being able to claim the title by force," the Queen said and took out a scroll with the Conqueror's seal on it and placed it in her daughter's hand . "From the hand of our Sovereign Lord," she stated, as Terreis took the scroll from her. "It is a summons to partake in the crowning of her Grace Princess Athena ."
"Crowning?!" Terreis was baffled.
"My Lord decided to resign and pass her rule over the Realm to her Heir," the Queen explained but the expression across Terreis' features told her that her youngest could hardly believe it. "You will do well to attend," the Queen said before she turned to leave.
After her Mother had disappeared into the woods, the darkness began to consume young Terreis. She could hear her searing blood pounding in her ears along with a deep, hollow growl. Her stalking, hunting eyes scoured the village and devoured the women in it. Every shred of self she tried to hold on to was quickly dissipating away. She tried to order her legs to walk towards her stallion but the beast desired to stay where the women were.
The Shamaness noticed the bleak change in Terreis' demeanor before anyone else did but she was not the only one. Another Amazon, a tall woman named Aella who was a couple of years older than Terreis with long, smooth, raven-black hair and deep blue eyes, noticed it, too, and felt a sudden jolt of sexual awakening at the mere sight of it.
The Shamaness covered the distance between them and lightly touched her elbow to draw her attention.
"How may I assist you, my queen?"
Savage rage gripped Terreis. Rage towards her Mother and rage towards her Sire and the Realm. She ignored the Shamaness and cried out to her sister Amazons.
"When I leave for Corinth to attend the coronation, the Amazons will cease to pay taxes to the Realm!" she ordered them.
If they did not already suspect a rift between their acting queen and the Queen of the Realm, now the Amazons were left without a doubt.
Mysia 's face showed concern as she exchanged looks with the Shamaness.
"My queen, you might wish to reconsider," she pleaded with Terreis. "You must not make such decisions in your state."
"And what do you know of my state?" Terreis asked.
"All that your Mother has told me about the Lord Conqueror's darkness… Everyone in the Realm knows about it. All have heard the stories which have made the Lord Conqueror a formidable legend."
"This despicable and horrid darkness is nothing to be admired."
"Some dread it, some envy it… others are in awe of it… and some admire and crave it," the Shamaness said.
"Well, I think it should be detested."
"Regardless, any personal resentment you might feel towards your parents cannot dictate your decisions as queen. It affects us all."
But Terreis refused to waver.
"We cannot survive against the mighty force of the Realm," the Shamaness tried once more to appeal to Terreis' reason.
"And what can the Lord Conqueror, be it my Sire or my Sister, do? Kill me?! As long as I am queen no harm shall befall us. We have bent before the Lord Conqueror for long enough. No more."
Mustering every smidgen of will power she still possessed, Terreis walked into the woods, planning to spend the night there and away from her sisters for their protection. Close to midnight, when she could not stand the overwhelming, unspent lust any longer and when tying herself against a tree proved futile, she gave up and rode to the nearest village outside the Amazon Lands that was large enough to host a brothel and sated her need.
Come morning, she hated and loathed herself for what she had done.
Meanwhile, the feverish preparations were in full swing. The ladies of the Realm worked their seamstresses to exhaustion to create the perfect dresses for the auspicious and festive event. Governors of the Realm picked out the most glamorous gifts for their new Master. In the Corinthian palace, under the watchful eye of Lady Satrina, hands were hired to assist the regular staff with their labor.
Waiting for the Queen's return, the Conqueror invited Athena for a stroll before supper in the Imperial Gardens near the lilly pond that her wife cherished dearly. The faint crimson rays of the sun accompanied them along with a warm spring breeze that whistled through the blossoming flowers and drew tiny ripples in the water.
"Is Mother coming home soon?" Athena asked the pensive looking Ruler.
"I hope so," the Conqueror replied.
"If it is of any comfort to you, Sire… I'm confidant that she was successful in talking some sense into Terreis and building a bridge between you. Terreis will return to you in no time at all and seek your forgiveness."
"I do not doubt your Mother's extraordinary abilities to make peace, but rather the ability of my progeny to relent."
"It is true that we are a stubborn breed but eventually we listen."
"Eventually…?!" the Conqueror frowned, "Just wait till your children grow up!"
They both shared a hearty laugh.
"So where will you and Mother travel first?"
"We shall sail to the Nordic Lands first," the Conqueror replied. "Your wife ignited your Mother's imagination with fantastic tales of the Fjords."
"A wise decision, Sire, for the Nordic Lands have some of the most magnificent landscapes you would ever see. I'm sure Sieglinde would be happy to knit some undergarments from fine wool to keep you warm, for even during summer the cold up there has a nasty bite to it."
"It would be greatly appreciated," the Conqueror said and fondly rested her hand on Athena's shoulder.
After a few quiet moments, the Conqueror asked her firstborn, "So tell me, are you at all excited?"
"About ruling the world?!" Athena scoffed. "Not at all, Sire… There's nothing to it," she quipped.
The Conqueror jabbed her elbow into Athena's ribs. "Always the jester," she muttered but then her features turned serious. "You do realize they will test you. Do you know what they are looking to see?"
"If I am as ruthless and as callous as you are, Sire," Athena replied, "I have already considered the possibility."
"Then should the need arise… What must you do?"
"Be twice as ruthless and callous as you've ever been, Sire."
"I have taught you well," the Conqueror was pleased as she received another confirmation that her decision was sound.
As soon as she returned from the Amazon Lands, the Queen regaled all the events that had taken place there and the wound in the Conqueror's heart was opened once more.
The day of the coronation arrived. The Great Hall was full to capacity. The noble men and women of the Realm who governed in the Lord Conqueror's name those provinces that were a moon's ride away from Corinth were all present in person. Those who governed provinces that were over a moon's ride away from Corinth were represented by their emissaries to the Lord Conqueror's court. Most of the highest ranking commanders in the Lord Conqueror's army were present as well with their wives. Outside the palace, within its massive wall and outside of it, stood the masses.
On all the Corinthian style columns hung the Conqueror's banners and a long red carpet was spread from the entrance and all the way up to the dais, which was ornamented with laurel leaves interlaced with golden pomegranates.
Rows of long, vast tables covered in white silk cloth stood to each side of the red carpet with gilded plates and goblets made of fine, shining glass, which were an extreme rarity, with gold intricate ornaments at the rims. At the middle of each table sat a platter in the image of the ships in the Conqueror's fleet. Marble fountains stood between the tables with wine constantly springing out of it and with two bronze statues of lions roaring to each side of them.
Despite the fact that the sun was high in the sky, all the torches and oil lamps were burning as were the beacons throughout the Realm.
The Great Hall had never seemed as extravagant as it did that day.
As the esteemed guests were marveling at the exquisite sights, a procession of a detachment of the Imperial Guards in their ceremony military attire and full armor and spears in their hands came marching into the Great Hall and took their places—a guard between two columns and guards at the foot of the dais, a dozen to the left and a dozen to the right.
"Her Grace Princess Gabrielle Terreis, Queen of the Amazons," the ceremony master announced and Princess Terreis dressed in her Amazon garments strode into the Great Hall on the red carpet. Only, she did not take her place at the Royals' table but sat at the table closest to it with the new governor to Athens , Nobleman Timaeus' son who inherited the position after his father had died.
After some restless wait, the ceremony master knocked on the ground with his staff and called out: "Be up standing to receive our Sovereigns."
All present rose to their feet and faced the entrance.
"The Lord Conqueror and her Majesty the Queen," the ceremony master exclaimed.
All in attendance bowed and curtsied as the Conqueror and the Queen walked together hand in hand dressed in white as the day of their wedding with long white robes over their shoulders and their sparkling crowns on their heads.
Next entered Princess Athena and Princess Sieglinde with their children walking behind them, they too dressed in regal white attire.
As they reached the dais, they climbed up the stairs and when they stood at the top, the Conqueror signaled Princess Athena to sit on the Throne.
Princess Athena turned to face the audience and sat on the Throne. She rested her arms over the large armrests and under her palms she felt the sculpted manes of the lions' heads at the edge of each armrest. She held on to them, hoping no one would notice how excited she was.
The Conqueror took the heavy crown off her head and the gems glittered in the light like the night stars, and she held it in both hands.
"Subjects of the Realm," the Conqueror's alto voice echoed in the Hall, "I, Xena of Amphipolis, your Sovereign Lord Conqueror of the Realm, hereby solemnly crown Princess Xena Athena of Corinth , next in my bloodline as the Second Lord Conqueror of the Realm to rule our great Empire."
The Conqueror approached the Throne with the crown in her outstretched arms and placed it on her firstborn's head.
Athena stood up, feeling the substantial weight of the gold crown on her head.
"All hail the Second Lord Conqueror," the First Conqueror exclaimed.
"Hail the Lord Conqueror," the audience replied.
"Commanders and guardsmen," the First Conqueror addressed the army men present, "Salute your Chief Commander," she said and they raised their spears and saluted the Second Lord Conqueror.
The Queen removed her own crown from her head and handed it over to her eldest.
The Second Lord Conqueror took the Queen's crown and raised it in the air. "I, Xena Athena of Corinth , Sovereign Lord Conqueror of the Realm, hereby solemnly crown you, Princess Sieglinde of the Nordic Lands, the Second Queen of the Realm to rule our great Empire."
Athena placed the Queen's crown on her wife's head, over her silk white cap.
"All hail the Second Queen of the Realm," she cried out and the audience answered her call: "Hail to the Second Queen of the Realm."
"Now your Sovereign Lord - I shall make you, subjects of the Realm, this pledge my solemn oath to you, to be a just and honorable Ruler to you all as well as your supreme defender and benefactor. I shall lead you all as my Sire, the First Lord Conqueror has done before me," Athena said to her subjects then turned to her Sire, and continued with a strong and solid tone of voice, "My Lord Conqueror, I thank you for giving me life and raising me into a powerful ruler and setting an example for me. I am standing here before you today proud to be flesh of your flesh and blood of your blood. The world has never known a greater more excellent Ruler than you." As she finished her speech, her gaze rested on Terreis as if the praises she paid her Sire were meant for her ears.
The Rulers embraced to the sounds of the boisterous mirth and the cheering of the crowd.
When it was quiet again, Queen Sieglinde addressed the audience. "Now your Sovereign Queen – I shall make you, subjects of the Realm, this pledge my solemn oath to you, to be a benevolent, virtuous and kind Ruler to you all as well as your shield, and benefactor. I shall be a true Queen to you and guide you and comfort you all alongside our Sovereign Lord as my Mother-in-law, the First Queen of the Realm has done before me." She turned to her Mother-in-law and said to her, "Queen Majesty, I thank you for passing your wisdom onto me and for being the image of generosity and kindness. I shall forever follow in your Majesty's footsteps and aspire to be as great a Queen as you."
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